Assess the film, Gladiator, based on ideas from Aristotle's Poetics.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If we used the function of the poet or of art in general in the Aristotelian sense with Scott's film, much can be evoked.  Aristotle defines the purpose of art as the following:

Aristotle is careful to stress that the job of “the poet” (which later critics have expanded to mean the author of any form of imaginative literature) is to present portraits of humankind as a means of helping audiences learn something about themselves.

Aristotle differs from Plato in making the argument that art is not a "lie," but rather serves as a looking glass where empathy and understanding can be aroused through being able to identify with a particular character.  Consider the situation of Maximus as a representation of this and one can see how Aristotelian conceptions of art is met.  Maximus is shown as an honorable character who must deal with deceit and suffer as a result of such cruelty.  Yet, he does not surrender.  Rather, the vision of Maximus as a survivor is a portrait that allows the viewer to understand how important survival is and how individuals can overcome in some form the most horrific of events.  While Maximus seeks vengeance, he also understands that his loyalty to Marcus Aurelieus compels him to bring Rome back to the Senate, driving him towards the end to fulfill this dream.  In this light, the rendering of Maximus' character is one that fulfills Aristotelian ends in that the viewer understands how to live one's life; that the need to be loyal and pure of heart, to possess "strength and honor," is a part of human identity.